Skip to main content


  • A landscape view of widely spread ancient trees on a grazing pasture.
  • A caterpillar moving between leaves
  • A barn owl in flight
  • Coral tooth fungi growing on a branch

Wood Pastures and Parklands

Open grassland or heathland ground vegetation with ancient trees.

Grazing animals present, their dung contributes to invertebrate and fungal diversity and grazing maintains the semi-open habitat.

Micro-habitats present i.e. hollow trees, decaying wood, rot holes, ageing bark and fallen but regenerating trees.

Very long-lived individual trees and continuity of management.

Importance for wildlife

Supports a wide range of plants, invertebrates, birds and mammals, especially hole-nesting birds such as Woodpeckers, Spotted Flycatcher, Tit species and Tree Sparrow. Bats roost and breed in crevices and hollows and feed across the habitat e.g. Barbastelle bats - particularly in veteran trees, Brown Long-eared Bat, Serotine, Leisler’s and Noctule. Saproxylic invertebrates are often associated with particular forms of wood decay. Other invertebrates use specialist habitat niches such as sap runs, water-filled holes, red rot tree hollows and sheltered hollows.

Important associated species


  • Hedge Accentor (Dunnock) Prunella modularis
  • Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus
  • Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris
  • Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus
  • Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes
  • Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
  • Marsh Tit Poecile palustris
  • Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata
  • Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur
  • Linnet Carduelis cannabina
  • Barn owl Tyto alba*


  • Barbastelle Bat Barbastella barbastellus
  • Brandts Bat Myotis brandtii*
  • Brown long-eared bat Plecotus auritus
  • Daubentons Bat Myotis daubentonii*
  • Leislers Bat Nyctalus leisleri*
  • Lesser Horseshoe Bat Rhinolophus hipposideros
  • Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus nathusii*
  • Natterer’s Bat Myotis nattereri*
  • Whiskered Bat Myotis mystacinus*
  • Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus pipistrellus*
  • Soprano Pipistrelle Bat Pipistrellus pygmaeus
  • Noctule Bat Nyctalus noctula
  • Serotine Bat Eptesicus serotinus


  • Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus


  • Golden Hoverfly Callicera spinolae


  • Goat Moth Cossus cossus
  • Knot Grass Acronicta rumicis**
  • Brown-spot Pinion Agrochola litura**
  • Large Nutmeg Apamea anceps**
  • Dusky Brocade Apamea remissa**
  • Oak Lutestring Cymatophorima diluta**
  • September Thorn Ennomos erosaria**
  • August Thorn Ennomos quercinaria**
  • Dusky Lemon Sallow Moth Xanthia gilvago**


  • Bearded Tooth Hericium erinaceus
  • Coral Tooth Hericium coralloides
  • Orange Chanterelle Cantharellus friesii
  • Oak Polypore Piptoporus quercinus


  • Anaptychia ciliarissubsp. Ciliaris
  • Bacidia incompta (mainly on elm)
  • Orange-fruited Elm Lichen Caloplaca luteoalba
  • Pyrenula nitida

*Suffolk Priority species
**Priority - Research Only. Common and widespread, but rapidly declining

Factors affecting habitat in Suffolk

  • Inappropriate management leading to loss of structure and age diversity i.e. over-tidiness and the removal of deadwood and intensive grazing which can damage trees.
  • The use of drugs to treat cattle which has led to a decline in the invertebrates associated with dung.
  • Agricultural practices such as ploughing too close to trees and damaging roots, destruction or ‘improvement’ of the grassland/heathland component including drainage, fertilisers and fungicides.
  • Diseases such as Acute Oak Decline, Ash Dieback and Phytophthora infections.
  • Reduction in plant nectar shrubs, such as Hawthorn, which provide food for emerging insects.
  • Fragmentation of habitat and isolation from similar sites limits the movement of species.
  • Neighbouring intensive agriculture.

Habitat management advice

  • Create age diversity by enrichment planting using locally sourced trees.
  • Avoid over-tidying of parkland in order to maintain a variety of habitats such as standing and lying deadwood, sap runs, rot holes, red rot tree hollows (these may be living or dead), scrub and leaf litter cover. This will also encourage the growth of fungi to provide breeding habitat for many species of flies and beetle.
  • Maintain a suitable grazing regime to ensure invasive scrub is kept down, a supply of dung is present to support specialist invertebrates, but flowering plants/shrubs are retained.
  • Maintain open areas as sunny sheltered sites for flowering plants. These produce nectar used by invertebrates.
  • Manage waterways/ponds to ensure deadwood is left in the water.
  • Monitor tree decline and report suspected cases of Acute Oak Decline and records of the beetle Agrilus bigattatus.
  • The felling of wood pasture or parkland trees may need approval from the Forestry Commission.

Staverton Park and the Thicks, Wantisden

Special Area of Conservation (SAC) 

The site was once a medieval deer park. The ancient oaks have rich invertebrate and epiphytic lichen assemblages, including rare and Atlantic species, such as Haemotomma elatinum, Lecidea cinnabarina, Thelotrema lepadinum, Graphis elegans and Stenocybe septata.

Vision for Suffolk

  1. Improve knowledge of extent and quality of wood pasture and parkland.
  2. Maintain the existing extent of wood pasture and parkland to ensure no net loss.
  3. Re-create wood pasture and parkland as opportunities arise.
  4. Encourage the restoration and improvement of degraded wood pasture and parkland.

Where to find further information

* all the links marked (pdf) have been gathered into an Issuu stack


  • Staverton Park and the Thicks, Wantisden by Gary Battell
  • Knot Grass Caterpillar by Paul Kitchener (Flickr)
  • Barn Owl by Neil Rolph (Flickr)
  • Coral Tooth by Arthur Rivett (Flickr)